Commonwealth, Hanwha Defence Australia sign AS9 Huntsman contract
By: Charbel Kadib
The Commonwealth government has officially ordered a fleet of the Hanwa’s Huntsman AS9 self-propelled artillery systems, valued at approximately $1 billion.
Hanwha Defence Australia has officially signed a contract with the Commonwealth for the supply of Huntsman AS9 self-propelled artillery systems to the Australian Army as part of the LAND 8116 Phase 1 program — a $900 million-$1.3 billion procurement of 30 self-propelled artillery systems and 15 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles.
The vehicles are set to be manufactured in Australia at a new Hanwha facility, based in Greater Geelong, Victoria.
Construction of the facility is scheduled to commence in the second quarter of 2022, spanning approximately two years, while production of the AS9 Huntsman self-propelled howitzers is scheduled to commence in the fourth quarter of 2024.
Several Australia-based companies have been tasked with supporting Hanwha’s project, including Kongsberg Defence Australia, ElmTek, Penske Australia, HIFraser, CBG Systems, TAE Aerospace, Bisalloy Steels, Thales Australia, Sigma Bravo a KBR company and Elphinstone.
The deal is also expected to support Hanwha’s overseas operations, enabling the company to better engage with Five Eyes nations.
The contract was signed at a ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra, attended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in, president and CEO of Hanwha Defence Corporation Son Jae-il, and managing director of Hanwha Defence Australia Richard Cho.
The deal marks the first major acquisition by Australia from an Asian defence prime contractor.
“I am enormously proud for Hanwha to be part of such a significant occasion,” Son said.
“To see the Korean president side-by-side with the Australian prime minister makes the growing depth of the relationship between Australia and Korea clear to me.
“Both countries have much to gain from each other economically, but benefits are especially significant in terms of regional security. The long-standing trust and friendship between Australia and the Republic of Korea is a great asset.”
Cho welcomed the opportunity to bolster the Australian Army’s artillery capability.
“The Hanwha team is now highly focused on the seamless delivery of what will be a transformative capability for the Australian Army,” he said.
“We will be working closely with our Australian industry partners to ensure that we deliver on our promise to establish sovereign capability here in Australia.
“With Australia’s close proximity to the Republic of Korea, and the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries, Hanwha’s Australian facility will also become a critical and important secondary line of supply back to South Korea.”
The Hanwha AS9 Huntsman is a bespoke design developed specifically for Australia, based on the K9 howitzer.
The Huntsman will be built with a 52-caliber 155mm gun system, in-service with multiple nations around the world including NATO nations.